Samantha Foster


American Beauty

Symbols & Themes

  1. Identify 2 important themes in the film. The American Dream will be one.                      One important theme in the film American Beauty is the american dream, this means that the film was based around the family wanting the american dream, the theme american dream means the classic white picket fence, a good well paying job, a nice expensive house, a wife and kids etc. That was a very common theme throughout the film. Another the comfority/non comformity
  2. Identify and describe 3 examples of each theme being shown in the film.
  3. Which symbols are linked to this theme? Explain why

Change in a character


Choose a character and….

  1. Describe the character at the beginning of the film: The character Lester at the beginning of the film was unhappy and not content with his life. He seemed miserable and looked like he didn’t want to be alive.
  2. Include visual/verbal features features to support your description: A quote from Lester that backs up my statement about him not having any value in his life is “feel like I’ve been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I’m just now waking up.” and/or “Look at me, jerking off in the shower… This will be the high point of my day; it’s all downhill from here.
  3. Identify and describe the event or person that influenced a change in the character: When Lester met Angela his whole perspective on life changed, Angela was his daughters good friend. The event was at his daughters cheerleading performance when he met Angela.
  4. Explain how the character changed: Lester changed as he turned around his lookout on his life. He started working out, buying the things that he always wanted i.e his favourite car and he started standing up for himself to the people that put him down i.e standing up to his wife and also quitting his job.
  5. Include visual/verbal features: Lester standing up yo his wife Carolyn “This isn’t life, it’s just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts.”  When Lester was telling hs family that he quit his job “Lose it? I didn’t lose it. It’s not like, “Whoops! Where’d my job go?” I QUIT.” Janie today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go fuck himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars.”
  6. Explain the outcome of this change. What did the character learn from this? The outcome of Lester’s change ended positive because eventually he became content and happy with the way his life had turned out. He did sadly get murdered but in the end he died happy, he wasn’t angry nor upset with his life. He learnt how to not care as much and that things don’t matter as much as he thought they did, he also learnt to stand up for himself and didn’t let people walk all over him.

American Beauty Setting and Effects


  1. Explain the effect that the setting has on the life of Lester Burnham: The setting that Lester lives in is very ordinary and standard suburban area, there is nothing special about it. As he lives in such plain area he is very boring and ordinary, he doesn’t have much of a personality at this stage which i think is based off the environment he is living in.
  2. Explain what you think the director wants us to learn about Burnham by placing him in this setting: The director wants us to learn that Lester is bored and is feeling drained is unhappy with his life, as his setting is boring and un-exciting so he carries out his life out that way.
  3. Repeat the above for another character of your choice: The character of my choice is Ricky Fitz, he lives with his two parents who are very different. His father has no trust in him and beats him while his mother seems very ‘out of it’ so it comes out on Rick negatively as he hides and lies about himself to his parents.Which is why the director put that in so we know why  he comes across reserved and ‘weird’.
  4. Imagine how the setting would affect you. write a blog to describe how  you would react to the setting. Include specific examples from the film: If I was put in Lesters setting I would probably be similar to how he is, i’d also be un-happy and tired of the life he is living as there is no happiness and excitement.

American Beauty

3 Act Structure


Hero’s Journey 


  1. The ordinary world – When the movie starts out, the life Lester is living looks ordinary, which is the whole purpose of the opening scenes. Carolyn makes a big effort into making everything seem and look perfect in their world. When Lester says something “off script”, Carolyn tells him not to be “weird”.
  2. The call to adventure – Lester’s whole life turns around when he goes to his daughter (Janie) cheerleading performance. Instead of him watching his daughter his eye catches a girl called Angela, and becomes infatuated with her and goes into full fantasy mode. The whole experience seems to wake Lester up to the reality of how terrible and boring his life has become at that point. 
  3. Refusal – Lester is very keen on Angela and realises he needs to make a few changers to himself before he can get someone like Angela as he remains fixated on her, despite the she is underage and his daughters friend. After taking a look at his body and physique he starts working put in his garage to get himself in shape, for Angela.
  4. Mentor helper – Lester takes his new attitude on life with him when he and his wife, Carolyn, to a work party of hers. Carolyn wants Lester to be ‘normal’ and pleasant but he doesn’t and mortifies her. He then goes out back of the party with a waiter called Rick, who is his new neighbour as well. Lester bonds quickly with Ricky relatively quick. The two of them end up smoking weed outside, lester becomes super impressed when Ricky’s boss catches them and rather than trying to apologise and make excuses for slacking off to do drugs, Ricky tells the boss off and quits. Lester admires Ricky’s attitude and tries to copy it.
  5. Crossing the threshold – Lester continues working and pushing foward on his new way of life. He steps

Lester continues pushing forward with his new lease on life. He steps up his exercise regimen a bunch, starts eating healthily, buys an awesome new car, listens to rock ‘n’ roll and smokes pot in the garage, and quits his job (after nailing a hefty severance package) to work at a burger joint.






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